THREAD.  Not terribly long ago I was asked to serve on a group to develop recommendations to protect schools from shootings.  I was dismayed that the group didn’t study any actual data on school shootings, so I decided to do some research on my own.  This is what I came up with.
But first, I the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I’m a gun owner myself.  I worked with firearms professionally in the Army, and I love to shoot as a hobby.  I’m not interested in taking away any lawful gun owner’s property.
I looked at data from 107 school shootings from 1971 through 2018.  I studied only premeditated school shootings in a K-12 setting.
I first want to say that I couldn’t possibly cover all shootings, nor could I find all the data even on those I did study.  I also didn’t try to explain relationships among factors.
Here are several of the sources I used for data.  I admit that I even used Wikipedia, but primarily to lead me to other sources.
This graph shows the number of shootings per year. In a few years there were no shootings.
The average number of shootings per year rose somewhat during the ten years of the assault weapons ban, and then rose again following expiration of the ban.
I use the term “battle rifle” to mean semiautomatic rifles designed primarily for combat, e.g., AR15, AK47 (civilian version), etc. During the assault weapons ban the average number of school shootings declined considerably.
Surprisingly, the average number of shootings per year increased significantly since federal law designated schools as gun-free zones.
The large majority of shootings occurred in secondary school settings.  The “all grade” school is the West Nickel Mines School shooting in 2006, aka the Amish school shooting.
The average number of fatalities per shooting was lower than I expected.  The two shootings with double digit fatalities are Sandy Hook and Parkland. Please note that I do NOT mean to say that these events aren’t tragic just because the fatality count was low.
The same trend is true of the number of persons wounded.
This simply compares the average number of fatalities and average number of wounded.  Generally, there were about half as many killed as wounded.
I mentioned earlier the very high number of victims in Sandy Hook and Parkland.  When those two events are removed from the calculation, the ratio of killed to wounded drops to about 1:3.
This breaks down a little further the number of fatalities.
Look at the average age of the shooters (circled in red). Most of the shootings at the secondary school level are committed by students – teenagers - in the school that was targeted. At elementary level, most of the shooters were adults.
Nearly all of the shooters were males.  Nearly 2/3 were white.  (107 shootings, but 109 shooters – two events involved two shooters – Jonesboro in 1998 and Columbine in 1999.)
I couldn’t find enough information to determine the psychological type of most of the shooters. These psychological types were defined by psychologist Dr. Peter Langman, not by me.
I also couldn’t determine whether mental illness was a factor in 55% of the shootings, or suicidal ideation in 65% of the cases.
I couldn’t find definitive information on mental illness, but it does appear that these factors played a role in several of the events.  Some of the shooters suffered from more than one factor.
In 60% of the events, the shooter obtained the weapons illegally.  (Think about it – so many of the shooters are teenagers, who are too young to own a firearm legally.) So where did they get the guns?
Nearly half of the weapons used in these shootings were stolen by the shooter from their own families.  Only 14% were bought legally.
Rifles – including semiautomatics like AR15s, AK47s, etc. – were used in only about 1/3 of the events.  By contrast, handguns were used in 70% of the shootings.
To break it down further, battle rifles were used in only about 14% of the shootings.  Half of the battle rifles used were stolen from family members.  Only 3 battle rifles were bought by a person under 21 years of age.
But look at this: The number of victims wounded and killed were significantly higher when a battle rifle was used in the shooting.
The large majority of incidents were over before the police ever arrived.
In only about 1/3 of the incidents was the shooter killed. The shooter lived to stand trial in 2/3 of the incidents.
In ¼ of the incidents, the shooter surrendered to or was subdued by UNARMED persons.  In less than half of the cases was the shooter stopped by a “good guy with a gun”.  In only 2% of the cases was that “good guy” a civilian.
A few summarizing points.
More summarizing points.
Still more summary.
I admit that this research is only worth so much.  I’m not an expert at data analysis, nor have I had time to continue collecting data.  If you would like the spreadsheet of data I did collect, DM me and I’m happy to make arrangements to get it to you.
What are the implications?  That we should ignore the hype, study the data, and develop some real solutions.  There are some common sense things we can do before we ever start talking about what types of guns people should be allowed to own.

If I could pass one law – just one –
it would be to require that lawful gun owners keep their firearms safely locked away.  Next, I’d implement red flag laws so that if any person is     showing possible signs, that person’s access to weapons can be temporarily restricted.
 
I would plus up mental health services in
in schools.  And I would provide training to teachers in how to work more effectively with kids who have been subject to the stress factors cited earlier.  It’s amazing how many shooters were talked down by a caring teacher.

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